Mailbag: Scott Kazmir

Fan Confidence Poll: January 23rd, 2011
Is it possible that Mitre really is the best option?
(Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Tucker, Tom, and Kevin write, paraphrased: Is there any chance the Yanks try and acquire Scott Kazmir?

The idea of acquiring Scott Kazmir is nothing new. Mike and I talked about Kazmir at length on the radio show this month. But, since many of you don’t listen to the RAB Radio Show (we won’t hold it against you), it might be time to present this on the main page. After all, we received these three emails between the times when I went to bed last night and I woke up this morning, so it’s a decently hot issue.

The Angels made a splash this weekend when they traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells and his contract. The Angels will receive just $5 million in salary relief from the Blue Jays, meaning their payroll became bloated pretty quickly. It already stands at almost $130 million, and that’s without Jered Weaver’s arbitration figure. Might the Angels, then, want to offset some of the salary they took on by trading one of their more outrageous contracts?

Per the extension he signed with the Rays in 2008, Kazmir is slated to earn $12 million this year, with a $13.5 million club option for 2012. Any club would decline that option and pay the $2.5 million buyout, so to trade for Kazmir would be to take on $14.5 million for one season. The Yankees might make a business out of taking on bad contracts, but I don’t think even they would pay Kazmir nearly $15 million for one season. If the Angels were to trade him, then, they’d have to pick up a part of the tab.

In some ways, Kazmir has progressed similarly to Johan Santana, though he wasn’t nearly as good at his peak, and his been much worse trough his decline. His peak came in 2007, when he struck out 10.41 per nine and had a 3.48 ERA against a 3.45 FIP and 3.79 xFIP. It all lined up. He wasn’t a groundball machine, but kept his rate over 40 percent. This helped him limit home runs, which helped him a lot, because he doesn’t have a pristine walk rate. But then in 2008 his strikeout rate dipped, his walk and home run rates spiked, and his ground ball rate dropped all the way to 30 percent. His ERA still looked nice, 3.49, but his FIP and xFIP figures both jumped over 4.00. His FIP was the most troubling, at 4.37.

Since then his peripherals have caught up to him. He began the 2009 season in horrific fashion, a 7.69 ERA and just 45.2 IP in nine starts. A thigh strain landed him on the DL. While he was better upon his return, he still wasn’t very good: a 4.68 ERA in his next 11 starts, though he pitched nearly six innings per start, nearly an inning more than he had pitched in his first nine starts. The Rays then cut their losses and traded him to the Angels, where he performed quite a bit better in his final six starts. But even then, his strikeout totals were low.

Last year, for the third straight season, Kazmir finished with around 150 IP (he hit it on the head last year). Yet it was even worse than 2009. His strikeout rate dropped to 5.58 per nine, his walk rate jumped to 4.74 per nine, and he allowed 1.5 homers per nine. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP were all closer to 6.00 than 5.00. There wasn’t a saving grace period, either, as there was in 2009. Kazmir was terrible or injured wire-to-wire. To the injuries, he hit the DL twice, missing a total of 42 days with shoulder issues. After his return his ERA was a bit better, 4.37, but he struck out just 33 in 57.2 innings while walking 30.

For parts of four seasons Kazmir worked through the AL East with aplomb. He had shiny strikeout rates, low ERAs, and decent innings totals. But by 2008 he was showing signs of decline, and in the past two seasons they’ve come to pass. He’ll always be an attractive name because of his past success, but that recalls a pitcher who, by nearly every indication, no longer exists. Sure, as a flier — a mid-level prospect for Kazmir and salary relief — he might be worth a sniff. But after taking on Vernon Wells’s contract, I fail to see why the Angels would pay Kazmir to pitch elsewhere. They’re better off keeping him and seeing if he can help them. It’s not as though they’re going to get anything useful in return.

So far today we’ve hit on two scrap-heap trade candidates. At 1:30 Mike will wrap it up.

Fan Confidence Poll: January 23rd, 2011
Is it possible that Mitre really is the best option?
  • Jimmy McNulty

    Johan I could understand, because he was at one point the best pitcher in baseball and has been good in the past when he’s healthy. When you’re looking at Scott Kazmir, the search for starting pitching has gotten out of hand.

    • Ross in Jersey

      Eh… taking on Johan would be even worse than taking on Kazmir. At least Scott only has one year left. Not only is Johan coming off the 2nd major surgery in as many years on his pitching arm, he’s due a fuckton of money for more years.

      Pass on both, but pass times 100 on Johan.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Johan was at one point elite and is more likely to be elite in the future.

        • T-Dubs

          How do you figure?

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Kazmir blows, at least when Johan pitches he’s good at preventing runs.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      kazmir passes the better than sergio mitre test though, no?

      • Steve H

        I don’t know. If I could just pick one in a vacuum I’d probably take Kazmir, but it will cost something in both players and money that aren’t worth giving up.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Just about everyone passes that test lol

  • YankeesJunkie

    The real question is could the Yankees trade A-Rod to the Angels to take on that salary.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Have Cashman (or Levine) call Pettitte and say, “We have $14.5M burning a hole in our pocket. Do you want it or do we give it to Kazmir?”

    Let’s hope Andy takes the bait.

  • Steve H

    I’d consider him as a LOOGY for $1 million, but he hasn’t even gotten lefties out at a good clip lately. He’s toast.

    • Rick in Boston

      Yikes – I just looked at his splits. More BB’s than K’s against lefties last year? No thanks.

  • The Evil Umpire

    Scott Kazmir… Ten Foot Pole… Two things that are definetly not touching!

  • Chris in Maine

    Medicine has made hugh strides over the years and they can fix an elbow. However shoulders are a whole different story. 10 foot pole as the Evil Umpire noted…


    Just saying….

    Trade 1
    Felix/Ichiro/Bradley ($43,033,333)

    Joba, Nova, Granderson, Gardner, Romine, Nunez, Laird and Adams

    Trade 2
    Justin Upton

    Montero, Banuelos and another prospect other than Betances, Brackman, Noesi or Sanchez

    Gives the Mariners an exciting yet inexpensive young team.

    The Yankees would obviously need to trade Bradley @ some point.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      your trade proposal


      any chance or basis in reality

      • pat

        You don’t trade King Felix just to get rid of Milton Bradley.

        • pat

          Not to mention none of the players they’d receive back from us would be considered young and exciting.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            The immortal Eduardo Nunez doesn’t float your boat

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              If he was immortal that would float my boat, because that would be some Highlander-type shit right there.

              /plays Queen songs
              /imagines decapitating the Kurgen

              … and yes…


              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                Eduardo Nunez is a winner! Just ask the Toros de Este of the DWL. They just won the league title in a best of 9, 5-0 sweep, with Nunez batting 5th and playing SS. Batting FIFTH!!
                On to the Caribbean World Series! Where yet another Yankee…….becomes a LEGEND*!!

                *Probably not.

              • The Big City of Dreams

                “If he was immortal that would float my boat, because that would be some Highlander-type shit right there.

                /plays Queen songs
                /imagines decapitating the Kurgen”

                I love RAB…good discussions, baseball talk, funny ppl, and comedy what more could any fan want.

                • jsbrendog (returns)

                  steak? ok i keed i keed

                  • Juke Early

                    steak plus them huge fries? I’m in

            • CAYANKSFAN

              Why was Cashman opposed to giving up Nunez in the Cliff Lee trade last Summer?

              • Steve H

                He wasn’t. He backed away because Jack Z. was trying to pull a fast one and kept screwing around. Nunez’ name has just been attached as the guy who held up the Lee trade, but it’s not that simple.

                • CAYANKSFAN

                  So Nunez stinks and Cashman is throwing up a smoke screen to sign Reyes next year?

                  The Yankees are not going to toss away a $200M payroll, and believe me, I know the trade proposal was far-fetched but they’ve got to do something.

                  • bexarama

                    they’ve got to do something.

                    No, no they don’t. People were saying this, what, two weeks ago, and then they gave Soriano that contract. The “WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING” mentality is what gets people that – or worse, the Angels’ Vernon Wells trade.

                    If a good starter emerges for a reasonable package, then yeah, we should look into that at least. If not, we don’t have to do anything.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I agree that they don’t “have to do something.” Or at least that this mentality can lead to mistakes. (Something can be a low cost option short-term.)

                      However, I don’t think this was at all the case with Soriano. They didn’t have to do that at all. Their bullpen could have been set. They choose to do something. You can disagree with that choice, but I don’t think it was an example of “having to do something, anything.”

        • CAYANKSFAN

          Not just Bradley ($13,033,333M) but an aging Ichiro and his $36,000,000M left and you’re gaining Granderson and Gardner. Seattle is not winning this year…or next but if those, according to Baseball America, top prospects turn into anything, they may in three or four years. You’d have a solid infield with and Ackley could go back to the outfield. Your position players are young and under contract!

          • Steve H

            Not. Even. Close.


        You’re right! I forgot to add Kei Igawa! Now it makes sense!

    • Kiersten

      If there was even a remote possibility the Mariners would trade Felix (there’s not), what makes you think they would trade him for not Jesus Montero?


        Say that again?

        • Craig

          She meant: Why would they even think about trading Felix if Jesus Montero was not included in the package?

    • T-Dubs

      Guys….he’s just saying!!

  • Opus

    So ultimately Peterson was right about him?

  • Andrew

    Hey if LAA wants to unload some payroll I would be okay with the Yankees picking up Pineiro and seeing if he has a big 2011 walk year. He passes the better than Mitre test for sure, and I think the left side of the infield could survive his ground ballishness every fifth day. Kazmir though? I think Mitre might perform at the same level as him at this point.

  • Bob Stone

    No thanks on Kazmir or Johan.

  • Mister Delaware

    Assuming Weaver would be untouchable, I’d love to make a move on Ervin Santana. $20MM through 2012 with a 2013 team option.

  • Kiersten

    I don’t think it’s just a matter of passing the better than Sergio Mitre test. The test is would you rather have Kazmir, who will inevitably spend time on the DL this year, or Sergio Mitre making ~15 starts before we are able to trade for a good pitcher in a salary dump from a non-contending team in June or July?
    People forget we made the playoffs every year in the mid-00s with worse 5th starters.


      The Red Sox were never THIS good.

      • Steve H

        The 2004 Red Sox were.

        • CAYANKSFAN

          No way!

        • Ban Bud

          Dominican Milkshakes can work miracles.

          • Juke Early

            finally—somebody sees…

      • bexarama

        the 2003, 2004, and 2007 Red Sox were ridiculously good, the 2011 Red Sox might be better but they’ll have to be amazing to beat those guys.

        • Kiersten

          What she said. Not to mention we don’t have to be better than the Red Sox to make the playoffs.

          • CAYANKSFAN

            Playoffs? That’s not what they are playing for. Just ask Derek Jeter, he’ll say it every other day.

        • bexarama

          Put the 2002 Red Sox in there too. 122 ERA+ as a team (and an offense that wasn’t too bad either).

      • Ted Nelson

        Pretty irrelevant… The question is not: does trading for Kazmir make the Yankees better than the Red Sox? The question is: does trading for Kazmir make the Yankees better than the Yankees without Kazmir? If eating $15 mill for a guy you don’t even expect to do any better than Mitre keeps you from trading for a better guy later in the season, the answer is probably no. No on both counts. If you contend they are not better than the Red Sox now and this trade does not make them better, they are still not better than the Red Sox.

        That’s why people say you don’t do something just to do something. Kazmir is just not worth $15 mill period.

  • bexarama

    Yeah… I very much think he’s cooked and that’s not a great contract even if he was very good. Kind of sad to see it happen but well. :/ I have no interest in giving up anything for him, because I think adding Kazmir to your team makes it worse.


    Not on paper….

    18 Johnny Damon CF
    11 Bill Mueller 3B
    24 Manny Ramírez LF
    34 David Ortiz DH
    15 Kevin Millar 1B
    19 Gabe Kapler RF
    33 Jason Varitek C
    12 Mark Bellhorn 2B
    3 Pokey Reese SS

    • bexarama

      a. reply button
      b. Right. On paper. You have to play the games. Maybe they all fall apart like what happened last year. Or maybe the pitching is just rancid and they score a bazillion runs but also allow a ton and don’t make the playoffs or get bounced early. The 2011 Red Sox look really good, no one is saying otherwise, but saying “on paper” means little.

      Also, you’re acting like that lineup is bad…… it’s not. At all.

    • Steve H

      18 Johnny Damon CF 117 OPS+
      11 Bill Mueller 3B 106 OPS+
      24 Manny Ramírez LF 152 OPS+
      34 David Ortiz DH 145 OPS+
      15 Kevin Millar 1B 117 OPS+
      19 Gabe Kapler RF Trot Nixon 123 OPS+
      33 Jason Varitek C 121 OPS+
      12 Mark Bellhorn 2B 107 OPS+
      3 Pokey Reese SS Orlando Cabrera 97 OPS+

      Curt Schilling 150 ERA+
      Pedro Martinez 125 ERA+
      Derek Lowe 90 ERA+
      Bronson Arroyo 121 ERA+
      Tim Wakefield 100 ERA+

      Bullpen: 3.92 ERA

      They were 50-26 in the second half, which is a 107 win pace.
      And, like Kiersten said, we don’t need to be better than the Sox to get in the playoffs.



        Crawford LF
        Pedroia 2B
        Youkilis 3B
        Gonzalez 1B
        Ortiz DH
        Drew RF
        Scutaro/Lowrie SS
        Saltalamacchia C
        Ellsbury/Cameron CF

        That is one helluva lineup, I’d take the 2011 team…on paper.

        • Ted Nelson

          A. Simply lining up line-up cards without even a shred of statistical evidence to back up your point is ridiculous. You have proven nothing. You have not even considered pitching, let alone actual production. Just names on paper.
          Are you even aware that Crawford has topped Damon’s 117 OPS+ once in his career?

          B. Who cares? How is the Red Sox being good an argument for the Yankees to make bad moves?


    Pedro and Schilling were great but this five vs Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Buccholz and Dice-K?

    * 61 Bronson Arroyo
    * 32 Derek Lowe
    * 45 Pedro Martínez
    * 38 Curt Schilling
    * 49 Tim Wakefield

    • bexarama

      You do realize that last year two of those guys were great and the others were blargh.

      • Steve H

        And that in 2004, Arroyo was great, Wakefield was decent, and Lowe, despite sucking in 2004 was huge, huge, huge in the playoffs.

      • Ted Nelson

        I highly doubt they do realize that.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    Does not want.

  • Dax J.

    I get the infatuation with the names (Santana, Kazmir), but I guess people are not looking past the obvious: In the last three seasons, they’ve been injured, shoulder injuries to be exact, and they have unattractive contracts. I’ll add myself up to the Ten Foot Pole group.

  • Steve

    Taking on Kazmir would be such a mistake. He’s a snake-bitten pitcher. Better the Yanks beg Andy Pettitte to come back.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Any major league ball club is better off without Kazmir than with. Fact.

  • http://msn Joe Giradi

    We need Andy he is usually great for five or six innings. We gave Roger 20 Million for part of a season. Tell him ( Andy)$20 million 12 million and bonuses money totaling $20 he will pitch. What about getting Mike M back from retirement.